Something I’ve Learned About Writing

Sunday reading
By Steve Mohundro

As I have mentioned, I love reading.  I also love writing.  Unfortunately, for me, those two cannot mix.  I have a problem with separating out what I read from what I want to write, so I have a particular system that I follow.
When I’m writing and have a book I’m reading at the same time, I write first.  First thing in the morning, after getting my Capp. and the kids are fed and watered, I write.  Later in the day, usually in the evening when everyone has had supper, I read, and I read only 5 chapters.  This is a system that seems to work for me. I wake up fresh in the morning and find my rhythm in my writing unhindered by the content I read the night before.

This was a trial and error discovery for me.  For a while now, I’ve been writing and haven’t had any books to read.  Well, not any new books anyway.  So, I’ve been writing and writing and writing with nothing to get in the way of it (other than every day normal life). Then, Hubs picked up a book for me that came out recently. City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare.  It’s the fourth in a series I’ve been reading.  I had already begun writing for the day when Hubs brought it home for me, and I immediately saved my draft and went to read the first chapter. I had planned on only reading that first chapter and getting back to writing… Unfortunately, I couldn’t. I was too interested in knowing what happens next in the book.  So, I continued reading until I reached the end of the fifth chapter.  By then I was tired, and it was late, and so I went to bed.

The next morning, I woke up and instead of sitting down to write, I read the next five chapters in the book.  When I was done with those chapters I found myself sitting in front of my word processor, wondering what the Hell I was supposed to be doing.  I had stopped in a good place in the book and I was not immediately tempted to move on to the next chapter, so why couldn’t I write?

Turns out, it is because I cannot read a book or part of a book first thing before I write.  I have to have my mind clear to write.  So, the next morning, I woke up and turned my computer on first thing. Once I had my Capp. and the kiddos were squared away with a movie and Hubs was in the living room watching TV, I sat down at the computer and typed!! Yay!! I was able to get right into my story first thing in the morning, with no problems from reading the night before!!
That is how I will do it from now on. True, the book calls to me saying “Read me! You know you want to,” in a very seductive voice.  I turn to look at the book as it says this and I say back, “Yes, I want to read you, but I also want to write.”  So far, that seems to have worked.  Occasionally I hear a low and throaty hum coming from it, but I ignore it and continue writing.  I have found my way, and it is good!

About Katie Doyle

Katie Doyle is an avid reader, writer of NA and Adult fiction, a mom to two tornadoes that resemble an eight and six year old, and pet to a tuxedo cat named Oz and a German Shepherd/Boxer rescue named Charlie. If she's not reading, writing, or getting Oz out of a tree, she's screaming at characters on TV and trying not to curse around her kids.
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2 Responses to Something I’ve Learned About Writing

  1. I was recently discussing the importance of reading for writers with another writing teacher. She said that, in her opinion, her students who also read a lot were the better writers. Nevertheless, I sometimes have problems reading while I am working on something, writing-wise. The book, if it's a really good one, meaning the author is a great writer… I tend to adopt the voice of the book, be too influenced by it. And that's not good! Of course, we are always influenced by what we read. But we also want our work to have our original voice. I guess it's just learning a system, like you seem to have down; so that we can figure out a way to make it work so that we can do both: read and write. –Lara

  2. Katie says:

    That is exactly why I had to find a system! I'm lucky enough that sleeping helps me separate my style from someone else's influence.

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